Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson took the headlines for Saturday night’s 3-1 win over Burnley.
Joelinton, the club’s No.9, also impressed at St James’s Park, though the striker wasn’t playing up front.
That role was taken up by Wilson, the summer signing who has scored four goals from his first four Premier League games. Joelinton was played behind Wilson as a No.10, and the 24-year-old played intelligently and brought others into play.
The performance had followed a Carabao Cup cameo off the bench against Newport County in midweek. The introduction of Joelinton and Wilson at Rodney Parade helped Newcastle get back into the fourth-round tie, which was decided on penalties after Jonjo Shelvey scored a late equaliser.
The club-record signing, bought from Hoffenheim, saw his spot kick saved, but had impressed Bruce in the last 20 minutes.
Bruce was also pleased with his contribution in the 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur, but his performance against Burnley, in a deeper role off Wilson, might be the most significant.
“I thought he was our best player against Newport,” said United’s head coach. “I thought he was our best player against Spurs, and he was very, very good (against Burnley).
“Maybe Allan shaded him, and I don’t like talking about individuals, but, obviously, playing him not as a No.9 suits him, gives him a little bit of freedom when he turns round and he takes the ball well.
“We’ll work at that. As I said, we are a work in progress, but Joe has added something to us, which I’m very, very pleased about.
“We know that he can play to a side, and obviously now, off the front as well, and be where he played (against Burnley).”
Joelinton never convinced as an out-and-out striker last season, though every player needs time to adjust to the physicality and intensity of Premier League football – and his time may yet come in that position.
The Brazilian, also used on the left by Bruce, isn’t a typical No.9 who attacks anything and everything in the box, but Bruce may have just found a position where he can flourish against certain teams 14 months after his arrival from Hoffenheim.